Best Pokémon Fan Games
Ever since the onset of Pokemania in the mid-90s, Pokémon has been a worldwide sensation the likes of which the world has never seen. With unprecedented popularity of Pokémon-related games, clothing, stuffed animals, and novelties, there has been an endless evolution of new ways to express the love of all things Pokémon.
Pokemon Fan games are no exception.
Over the decades since Pokémon came to fame, fans have lovingly crafted thousands of games exploring their interpretation of the Pokémon universe. Here are a few of the most notable examples:
- Twitch Plays Pokémon
Twitch Plays Pokémon is one of the most fascinating phenomena among Pokémon fan inventions. Played collectively by a massive audience, Twitch Plays Pokémon uses an innovative Twitch.Tv-based interface that allows viewers of a Twitch Plays stream to input commands through chat which are then passed to the game on screen. Twitch Plays Pokémon is played using the Nintendo Gameboy and Nintendo DS versions of the official Pokémon games, with the first ever Twitch Plays Pokémon being played on Pokémon Red for the original Game Boy.
While based on an official game, the resulting social experience was something totally new, adding layers of complexity and fun to a game that came out over 20 years ago. In the time since the first iteration of Twitch Plays, all kinds of other games have spun off of it including none other than entry number 4.
- Fish Plays Pokémon
Following the model of Twitch Plays, an innovative streamer decided to create an interface that translated the motions of their pet fish into Pokémon control inputs. The result? Tens of thousands of worldwide viewers tuning in to encourage the fish and strategize how to guide the fish to victory.
Once again, this fan-powered, passively played game generated craze that you wouldn’t believe, and it’s likely to continue to inspire new takes on the “Plays” genre.
- Pokémon Green Remix
Pokémon Green Remix is an incredibly detailed fan redesign of Pokémon Green, one of the two original Pokémon games for the Nintendo Game Boy. The original Pokémon Green was a Japanese-only release, with the US equivalent version being Pokémon Blue. In Japan, Pokémon Blue was a special edition of the Pokémon games, something akin to Pokémon Yellow, which blended features of both Pokémon Red Version and Blue Version in the United States.
Because of version differences between the two international fanbases, many US-based players were fascinated with the concept of another Pokémon game that none of their friends had ever played, which led to many young fans seeking out copies of Green (only to discover that regional and language differences made the game difficult to play in the US.)
Many years later, a group of developers came together to create Pokémon Green Remix as a non-profit fan project so that US players would be able to experience a uniquely customized version of Pokémon Green. Since its launch, it’s had multiple content and bugfix updates, thousands of players, and become a beloved fangame among the Pokémon fandom!
- Pokémon Uranium Version
Built using RPG Maker XP by a passionate team of artists and developers, the PC-Based Pokémon Uranium is one of the most intricate and lovingly-crafted Pokémon fangames of all time. With built-in online features, Pokémon Uranium really did go the extra mile to create a full-fledge Pokémon experience.
Unfortunately, Uranium Version became so popular that Nintendo’s legal department acted on the copyright, arguing that the game was outside of Fair Use guidelines within the US. Nintendo’s legal action against the game led to the closure of the website and the ending of official development, though many fans of the fan game have kept access to the game open on their own sites since then.
Pokémon Uranium Version was originally slated for recognition at the Video Game Awards of 2016, but, following the controversy, was removed from qualification.
While many Pokémon fan games base themselves directly off of the mainline Pokémon games, there are a few that set off in their own direction to create Pokémon-inspired games that stand on their own two (or more!) feet. There is no better example than TemTem.
Funded on Kickstarter for over $570k, TemTem was an undeniable crowdfunding success. It promised (and is delivering) creative, original creatures that have complex-but-accessible types for battling, breeding, and evolving. Unlike the handheld Pokémon games, TemTem decided to pursue creature battling in full-3D, allowing for rich environments with more explorability.
The game, currently in early access, features customizable main characters, collectible cosmetics, and mass-multiplayer trading and battling in colorful 3D environments. With how much potential it has, TemTem is the kind of game that no Pokémon fan should miss, especially given how much passion, love, and inspiration the development team and fanbase are pouring into the game.
If it turns out anything like other indie creature collecting games that have arisen in recent years, like Monomi Park’s Slime Rancher, it’s set to have a long and healthy life with adorable creatures and exciting adventures.